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Altamira OrioleTEXAS

January 11 - 19, 2025

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South Texas in January is the perfect destination for birders hoping to add some special species to their North American bird list while enjoying a little winter sun. This birdy, relatively easy-paced tour offers a wealth of remarkable birds including many that only inhabit the US in this tropical little corner of Texas. Our adventure starts in the Corpus Christi area as we search for wintering groups of the charismatic Whooping Crane along with the many other wonderful birds that call this region home: Roseate Spoonbill, Gull-billed Tern, Snowy Plover, White-tailed Hawk, and Sedge Wren.

Green JayAs we head south, we will find some of the more festively adorned avian regulars – garrulous Green Jays, raucous Great Kiskadees, and stunning Altamira Orioles. We will also seek out other local specialties that only irregularly find themselves on the US side of the border: Brown Jay, Red-billed Pigeon, and Hook-billed Kite.

Perhaps the main draw of a visit to Texas at this time is the lure of southern vagrants that are found wintering along the Rio Grande each year, such as Crimson-collared Grosbeak, Blue Bunting, and White-throated Thrush. Part of the excitement is that one never knows what rarities each winter here will produce, and our trip has the flexibility built in to go find them.

SAplomado Falconsome species possible on this tour:
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Muscovy Duck*, Mottled Duck, Plain Chachalaca, Northern Bobwhite, Least Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Reddish Egret, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, White-tailed Kite, Hook-billed Kite, Harris's Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Gray Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Whooping Crane, Long-billed Curlew, Red-billed Pigeon, Inca Dove, Common Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Groove-billed Ani, Common Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Crested Caracara, Aplomado Falcon, Red-crowned Parrot, Green Parakeet, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Green Jay, Chihuahuan Raven, Cave Swallow, Black-crested Titmouse, Verdin, Sedge Wren, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Clay-colored Thrush, Curve-billed Thrasher, Long-billed Thrasher, Sprague's Pipit*, Painted Redstart, Morelet's Seedeater, Cassin's Sparrow, Olive Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, Pyrrhuloxia, Bronzed Cowbird, Altamira Oriole, Audubon's Oriole, Hooded Oriole, and Mexican rarities. *= rare.

Join us for a winter birding escape to South Texas & the Rio Grande Valley!
It's birdy and tons of fun!

Questions? Contact [email protected]

Plain Chachalaca Ladder-backed Woodpecker Long-billed Thrasher
Photos from top: Altamira Oriole, Green Jay, Aplomado Falcon, Plain Chachalaca, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Long-billed Thrasher.

Sunrise Birding has organized many successful birding trips to Texas. 
See our Trip Reports page past trip reports>

ITINERARY (This is a necessarily flexible itinerary subject to change depending upon the birds!)

Day 1 - Saturday: Arrival in Corpus Christi, Texas
We will meet at the airport in Corpus Christi (Airport code: CRP) by 2 p.m.  Time permitting, we will start birding right away before checking into our hotel and enjoying our welcome dinner. Night Port Aransas.

Day 2 - Sunday: Corpus Christi / Rockport / Harlingen
Whooping CraneThe diversity and abundance of birds that winter in southern Texas is impressive. We'll begin our day at the famous Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas, often home to one of North America’s rarest bird species: Whooping Crane. A pair and their young have often wintered here.

The coastal marshes and pastures of Port Aransas support these iconic cranes and a host of other coastal species including shorebirds, gulls, terns, waders, and land birds. Other highlights here may include such beauties as Roseate Spoonbills, Reddish Egrets, Gull-billed Terns, and Black-necked Stilts. On the way from the Birding Center, we’ll also be on the lookout for any Aplomado Falcons and White-tailed Hawks reported locally.

After lunch, we’ll head to either Pollywog Pond or Hazel Bazemore State Park in Corpus Christi. Both are home to a wide variety of habitats and South Texas specialties including Vermilion Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Tropical and Couch's Kingbirds, and Sedge Wren.

In the late afternoon, we’ll journey south to Harlingen. On our way, we’ll watch for birds of prey. We may well find a White-tailed Hawk perched atop a yucca or a Harris’s Hawk or Crested Caracara. Other local specialties we hope to see today include Golden-fronted Woodpecker, White-winged and Inca Doves, Loggerhead Shrike, Brewer’s Blackbird, Bewick’s Wren, and Black-crested Titmouse. Night Harlingen.

Day 3 - Monday: Laguna Atascosa NWR / South Padre Island Nature Center
Reddish Egret, JuvenileHeading east from our base in Harlingen to the famous Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, we’ll cross coastal prairies that support both White-tailed Hawk and Crested Caracara; our focus today is on finding a real beauty, the rare Aplomado Falcon. Although this stunning falcon ranges from the southern tip of South America all the way to the U.S., it can only reliably be found in the U.S., at a handful of spots in the very southernmost tip of Texas. Happily, it has been elevated to countable status by the ABA.

The wealth of waterfowl at Laguna Atascosa and nearby South Padre Island, includes thousands of Redheads and other ducks, notable numbers of waders including Reddish Egret and White-faced Ibis, and wintering shorebird goodies such as Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew, and Stilt Sandpiper. Gull-billed and Sandwich Terns are possible. Land birds we may encounter in the area include Couch’s and Tropical Kingbird, Sedge Wren, Curve-billed and Long-billed Thrashers, and Cassin’s Sparrow. The boardwalk at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center provides wonderful photo opportunities of shorebirds, waterfowl, and waders, and access to a small population of “Mangrove” Yellow Warblers.

In the afternoon, we’ll visit the campus of the University of Brownsville, which often hosts wintering rarities, Green Parakeets, and other RGV specialties. Past rarities found here include Black Hawk, Social Flycatcher, and Texas’s second record of Fan-tailed Warbler.

Brownsville and Harlingen are both known for their communal roosts of parrots and blackbirds. Tonight, we will enjoy the amazing spectacle of parrots (mainly Red-crowned Parrots) and Great-tailed Grackles as they come to roost. The cacophony is something to behold and this spectacle is an integral part of any tour to this part of the world.

Every day in the Rio Grande Valley holds the possibility for something rare and exciting to appear, so we will be keeping our ear to the ground for something like a Blue Bunting, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Rose-throated Becard, Crimson-collared Grosbeak, or who knows what else to throw an exciting wrench into our day’s plans!  Night Harlingen.
Day 4 - Tuesday: Brownsville and Weslaco
This morning, we’ll return to Brownsville to explore the wonderful Resaca de la Palma State Park, often the wintering home to RVG rarities such as Rose-throated Becard, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and Tropical Parula. Olive Sparrow, Plain Chachalaca, Altamira Oriole, and White-tipped Doves are resident here. Past rarities found in this lovely park include Grey-collared Becard, Roadside Hawk, and Crimson-collared Grosbeak.

After lunch, we’ll visit the beautiful and birdy Estero Llano Grande. At this lovely site, we hope to sweep up specialties such as Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Common Pauraque, Neotropic Cormorant, Least Grebe, White-tailed Kite, Black Phoebe, White-tipped Dove, Vermillion Flycatcher, and many others.

The impoundments at Estero Llano Grande are known for attracting waders, shorebirds, and waterfowl, including Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, and many other species. Sora and Virginia Rails are seen here regularly, as are American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, and Wilson’s Snipe. The park’s thickets have produced Clay-colored Thrush, the rare White-throated Thrush, Tropical Parula, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Western Tanager, as well as other rarities. This small park’s bird list tops 345 species! Night Pfarr

Day 5 – Wednesday: Santa Ana NWR / Weslaco Areas
Black-bellied Whistling Duck.We have three full days to explore the McAllen/Weslaco Area. Today, we’ll visit the renowned Santa Ana NWR, home to species like Ringed and Green Kingfishers, Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Plain Chachalacas, and Green Jays. In addition, a host of Mexican rarities have seen here over the years.

We’ll arrive early at the Santa Anna hawk-watch platform to scan the skies along the Rio Grande for tropical raptor species, such as Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks, and the rarest of Southern Texas raptors: the Hook-billed Kite. Other local specialties here include Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Great Kiskadee, Long-billed Thrasher, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, and Clay-colored Thrush.

Santa Ana’s many ponds support a variety of waterfowl, including both Whistling Duck species. The refuge’s bustling feeders often attract such goodies as Altamira Oriole, Green Jay, White-tipped and Inca Doves, Black-crested Titmouse, and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers. This is a great place to enjoy the often-raucous antics of the Plain Chachalaca flocks. Santa Ana’s bird list tops 400 species and the rarities seen over the years include some whoppers, such as Blue Mockingbird, Roadside Hawk, Slate-Bronzed Cowbirdsthroated Redstart, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, and Blue Bunting.

After lunch, we’ll visit one or more smaller sites such as the Progresso Lakes Grain Silos, Frontera Audubon Center, or Valley Nature Center, productive natural oasis’s that make Rio Grande Valley birding so rewarding.

Frontera Audubon’s thickets and ponds are always a joy to explore, and anything is possible here. Past rarities seen include Blue Bunting, Tropical Parula, and Crimson-collared Grosbeak. Valley Nature Center hosted a Golden-crowned Warbler in 2022, and the Grain Silos attract hordes of blackbirds, including Bronzed Cowbirds and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Night Pfarr.

Day 6 - Thursday: McAllen Area
We will start our morning following up leads and exploring a couple of the smaller sites in the McAllen area. Depending on what’s needed, we may visit parks such as the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, which attract a wide array of water birds, is one of best sites in the RGV for Ringed, and Green Kingfishers, or Quinta Mazatlán World Birding Center, another world-class birding site with a nice mix of habitats and species. If time allows, we’ll stop at the wonderful NABA Butterfly Center, where one can witness an incredible array of multicolored Lepidoptera that are often found in few other places in the US. Edge habitat here can be productive for woodland birds and the park's fields provide good habitat for sparrows and other open-country species. The center's feeders are known for attracting such goodies as Audubon's Oriole and Clay-colored Thrush. Night Pharr

Day 7 - Friday: McAllen / Zapata
Greater RoadrunnerToday, we will make an early start and wing our way northwest along the Rio Grande to the tiny town of Salineño nestled on the river’s banks. Scanning from the river overlook gives us our best chance to find wild Muscovy Ducks and Red-billed Pigeons and with great good fortune, perhaps a Black Hawk, Brown Jay, or Morelet's Seedeater. The famous feeding station here offers opportunities for views of Audubon’s Oriole, and a wide array of species, including Altamira and Hooded Orioles, Scaled Quail, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and Blue Grosbeak.

As we leave Salineño and head further northwest, we’ll start to encounter drier and more desert-like habitats. At places like Falcon Dam State Park and Starr County Park, we’ll search for Black-throated Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, Vermillion Flycatcher, Scaled Quail, Greater Roadrunner, Verdin, and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. Other exciting South Texas specialties to be found include Chihuahuan Raven, Cactus Wren, Western Meadowlark, and both Red-billed Pigeon, and Morelet's Seedeater. Night Zapata.

Cassin's SparrowDay 8 - Saturday: Zapata / Rio Grande City/ Corpus Christi
The Zapata area is traditionally the place to find the tiny Morelet’s Seedeater. If we haven’t found one already, we’ll spend the early morning in search of these diminutive seedeaters before slowly working our way back to Corpus Christi. We’ll concentrate on finding any birds that we may have missed: whether dry habitat species or the more tropical species we encounter further south. We will also be keeping a close eye on reports of rare birds that we might chase. Depending on our intel and chosen route back to Corpus, there may be a chance to search for Mountain Plover or to look for scrub-loving birds such as Cassin's Sparrow or the elusive Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl.  We plan to arrive in Corpus Christi with time to freshen up before heading for a celebratory dinner. Night Corpus Christi.


Day 9 - Sunday:  Departures from Corpus Christi, Texas after 2 p.m.



LEADER: Frank Gallo

Roseate SpoonbillTEXAS
January 11 - 19, 2025   Registration Form>

 US$2795.00 per person based on double occupancy from Corpus Christi, Texas (Airport code: CRP).

Deposit:  $750.00 per person. Note: Tour deposits can be paid by check or credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise [email protected] when you have made payment.

Single supplement: US$595.00 pp based on availability. Please inquire. 

Included in cost: Cost is based on double occupancy and a minimum of 7 passengers and includes private transportation during the tour, all accommodations, meals from dinner on Day 1 until breakfast on Day 9 during the tour, professional guide services, local guides, local park and reserve entrance fees.

Not included:  Round-trip travel/flight to Corpus Christi, Texas (Airport code: CRP), group airport pickup on arrival, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature such as: laundry, telephone, beverages, gratuities for porterage, guides, or personal services.   Also, any and all costs arising from pandemic or Covid-19 related issues are not included in the tour cost and are the sole responsibility of the traveler. These include, among others, the costs of Covid treatment, hospitalization, medical fees, transport, meals and accommodation in case of illness or quarantine, and the costs of any Covid tests needed before, during and after the tour.


RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour:

1) Contact Gina Nichol at [email protected] to confirm availability and hold your place.

2) Review the Terms and Conditions of Booking (pdf download)>

3) Complete the Registration & Release Form (pdf)> and mail it with your deposit of US$750.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC within two weeks to secure your place. 

>Download & print the Registration Form (pdf download).
Instructions are on the form.

Reservations are held with a paid deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.

Final payment is due September 11, 2024. Check or bank transfer are preferred but credit card payments are possible (surcharges of up to 5% are added depending on amount to cover credit card company fees).  Please inquire.

Flights:  Once we have reached the subscription level, we will confirm the tour and send out confirmations with specific timings so that you can book your flights for this tour. Please do NOT book your flights until you have received the official confirmation letter from us with the flight schedule.  There is a flight agent who can help you and we will provide their contact information in the confirmation letter.

Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators, estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, and fuel costs can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount. Note, we have rarely had to do this but we need to be clear what could happen due to changing costs.

Cancellations and Refunds:
Please review our Terms and Conditions of Booking (pdf download)> prior to registering for this tour. All cancellations must be made in writing. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.

There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.


Sunrise Birding LLC strongly recommends that you consider purchasing a travel protection plan to protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected in case of delay, injury or illness prior to or during a tour. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss and Delay, Emergency Medical Transportation, Pre-existing Conditions, and more. Get started here>



  • Insurance policy requirements vary and the timing of your purchase can affect coverage. Some insurance providers require that for coverage of pre-existing conditions, a policy must be purchased within 7-14 days of booking. Others, like CSA, offer policies that cover pre-existing conditions as long as the policy is purchased prior to making your final payment for the tour.

  • Trip insurance policy premiums may be non-refundable, but they may be able to be amended or transferred. Check with your insurer. It is important to be sure that the tour is sufficiently subscribed to operate before you purchase trip insurance.

  • Pay attention to coverages provided by your policy. Be aware of the requirements of country or destination can change, so check often. Some policies are now offering Covid related coverages so check with your insurer.

  • US medical insurance plans (including Medicare) often do not provide coverage outside the US. The US State Department strongly advises Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Consult with your insurer prior to your trip to ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider directly or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Be sure to get and keep all documentation of any expenses incurred.


Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at 
Phone: 203.453.6724